Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 06/23/12 at 08:26 PM ET
If Pittsburgh wasn’t already doing a hard sell on Zach Parise and Ryan Suter’s agents, Yahoo Sports’ Nicholas J. Cotsonika just penned one for ‘em, imagining what Cotsonika called a dynasty-in-the-making team truly evolving into just that with this summer’s marquee free agents choosing what he seems to believe is the only logical place for either to play:
If you’re Zach Parise or Ryan Suter, is there anywhere you’d rather play than Pittsburgh? The Penguins can take a run at the top two UFAs on the market, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. (Getty)Let’s see. You could be paid well. If you’re Parise, you could be the long-awaited winger for Sidney Crosby, who just so happens to be your buddy. If you’re Suter, you could bolster the defense of a talented team that includes Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Kris Letang and Marc-Andre Fleury. In either case, you could work for good-guy coach Dan Bylsma. You could have a great chance to win the Stanley Cup year in and year out.
Oh, and you could do it all in a U.S. market where hockey matters but doesn’t matter too much – important for low-key American stars like Parise, from Minnesota, and Suter, from Wisconsin.
Parise and Suter didn’t seem like realistic options for Pittsburgh a couple of days ago. But now that general manager Ray Shero has cleared salary-cap space by swinging deals at the NHL draft at Consol Energy Center, the Penguins can make a push for at least one of the top unrestricted free agents July 1. Especially if Shero can clear some more space – by, say, moving defenseman Paul Martin and his $5 million hit – they might even be able to make a push for both.
But what about other teams, like Detroit or Minnesota?
Both could go to Detroit or Minnesota. The Red Wings have the cap space to make a splash, and their savvy management has been able to reload for years without high draft picks. They especially need Suter after the departures of Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart. The Wild has cap space and Midwestern allure. Minneapolis is Parise’s hometown team and close to Suter’s home state. But some of the Wings’ key pieces are older. How long can they defy gravity? And is the Wild close enough to winning? Does anyone know if the Wild can win long-term?
Both should have other options. Parise could go to, say, Los Angeles. The Kings have cap space and a hole at left wing. They just beat the Devils to win the Cup, and they have a young core. The beach ain’t bad, either. But is he a West Coast guy? Suter could go to, say, Chicago, if the Blackhawks can clear cap space by trading Niklas Hjalmarsson and his $3.5 million hit.
No doubt others will be in the mix, or will want to be, and Pittsburgh isn’t necessarily perfect. Some teams might be willing to pay more money or do a front-loaded deal – perhaps especially Detroit, with owner Mike Ilitch aggressively trying to keep the Wings among the elite. Parise or Suter – or both – might have to take less to fit into the Penguins’ salary structure, and the Pens won’t do front-loaded deals, even with a potential lockout looming.
He goes on at some length, and it’s written like a love letter.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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